Things are going pretty well for Massachusetts these days, but we’re Bostonians. We know how it works.
One minute, you’re winning the World Series. The next, you can’t seriously call what you play Major League Baseball.
Some of our biggest export markets are shaky. Our energy agenda is off the rails. (Insert MBTA joke here.) The high cost of living and doing business goes down even harder when the only place you can afford to live is your car.
So as our legislators finalize a budget spending $13 billion more than we did pre-COVID, it’s reassuring to know that they have a game plan for making sure we can pay for it.
Our economic future looks bright judging from the agenda of the June 20th Joint Committee on Economic Development & Emerging Technologies. Forward-looking vision, watchdog vigilance and bold ideas abound.
But there’s a problem. The reps and senators mean well, but sometimes they bury their messages in jargon and legalese.
As a public service, here are some useful English translations:
A bill creating a “Protein Innovation Commission” to “develop a master plan” for promoting “protein innovation and the alternative protein industry.”
There’s green in those hills, no doubt about it. Just Google “alternative protein industry growth,” check out the mortgage rates on a sirloin steak these days, and do the math yourself.
While it’s unclear what the special commission’s members can add to the work of an academic/industrial complex that’s already on it, their report can enhance its usefulness by expanding its scope to include alternative junk food industry growth as well. When you think of all the donuts, crullers, coffee rolls and muffins we consume, think of the economic and social benefits if we lead the nation in production of calorie-free sugarless substitutes that taste just as good!
“An act establishing a commission to study the financial relationship between Massachusetts entities and companies owned by the Chinese government.”
Here, House Republican leader Brad Jones models key contemporary GOP values: intrusive state scrutiny of private business (turbocharged by the vague mandate to “ascertain the extent to which business operations conducted by Chinese state-owned companies affect local industries”), meddling with marketplace competitiveness (by larding the committee with real estate, tech, banking and other industry group lobbyists), and xenophobia (“assess…dangers posed to the commonwealth’s economic wellbeing and sovereignty”).
“An act preparing Massachusetts for the Next Economy.”
You guessed it, another special commission proposal, this one to create “an inventory of infrastructure, buildings and land use regulations.” Why not just Google it? Done! Just kidding, these high-test research projects produce reports that serve a valuable purpose – holding up the other reports on the shelves of the State Library.
Are these really the moves that will set us up to thrive and support our ever-expanding budget? Maybe that question should be reviewed by the ultimate arbiter – another special commission.